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May 30, 2023

Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 8/24 – OHA Reports 71 New Covid Related Cases in Klamath County; 4,701 New Confirmed and Presumptive Cases and 24 New Deaths Around the State of Oregon

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The latest and most comprehensive coverage of local News, Sports, Business, and Community News stories in the Klamath Basin, Southern Oregon and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM / 102.5FM, The Herald & News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insuranceyour local health and Medicare agents.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Widespread smoke, mainly before 11am. Sunny, with a high near 84.

Wednesday Areas of smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 81.
Thursday Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 83.
Friday Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 85.
Saturday Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 88.

Today’s Headlines

There are 24 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,036 the Oregon Health Authority reported today. Oregon Health Authority reported 4,701 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of today bringing the state total to 257,644.

The 4,701 cases reported today include new infections recorded by counties for the 3-day period between Friday, Aug. 20, and Sunday, Aug. 22.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (29), Benton (61), Clackamas (366), Clatsop (19), Columbia (80), Coos (66), Crook (19), Curry (61), Deschutes (365), Douglas (398), Gilliam (5), Grant (10), Harney (14), Hood River (14), Jackson (308), Jefferson (34), Josephine (234), Klamath (71), Lane (659), Lincoln (41), Linn (186), Malheur (24), Marion (195), Morrow (29), Multnomah (582), Polk (113), Tillamook (49) Umatilla (69), Union (78), Wallowa (16), Wasco (23), Washington (401), Yamhill (82).

Yesterday, the FDA approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in those 16 and older.

The vaccine remains authorized for emergency use in those 12 and older and a third booster for immunocompromised individuals.  This is big news in the fight against COVID-19.

Sky Lakes continues to advocate for vaccination and public health and encourages you to get vaccinated for the health of our community. If you haven’t received your COVID-19 vaccine yet, go to skylakes.org/getvaccinated to see your vaccination options and stay up to date with COVID-19 news by listening to this station.

Klamath County School District’s human resources team of Mark Greif and Chelsey Tyree swept the Oregon School Personnel Association’s 2020-21 awards last month, bringing home top honors as HR Director of the Year and HR Specialist of the Year.

For Greif, who is retiring this fall, the award tops off a successful, decades-long education career in the Klamath Basin. For the last 10 years, he has worked as the district’s director of human resources. He was a school counselor and special education teacher before entering administration as a vice principal and principal at Henley High School. He started teaching in 1987 as a special education teacher in Klamath Falls City Schools before moving to the county district in 1996.

Tyree joined the district as human resources executive assistant/specialist in 2012, a year after Greif took the reins as HR director. She came to the district after working in human resources at Sky Lakes Medical Center and Klamath Community College. Since joining KCSD, she has taken the lead on developing and updating processes and systems to serve more than 900 employees.

During pandemic, she managed employee communication and leaves required due to COVID-19, ensuring all staff had proper paperwork and notification.

With firefighters now well on their way to containment of the Fox Complex fires, Lake County officials have lifted all remaining evacuations in the area.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office thanked the “outstanding firefighting efforts” of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Incident Management Team 3, which commanded efforts on both the Patton Meadow Fire and the smaller Willow Valley Fire — the latter of which was handed back to local resources after containment reached 85 percent.

While all evacuation levels are now gone on the Patton Meadow Fire, most of the Fremont Winema National Forest remains closed as crews work on mop-up and forest rehabilitation efforts.

The Patton Meadow Fire is estimated at 8,947 acres with containment at 52 percent. Fire officials said Monday that handheld infrared cameras confirmed overnight that the east and southeastern parts of the fire are “out cold” 100 feet into the fire’s perimeter, but there is still considerable heat on the west and north sides that needs to be mopped up. Firefighters tackled a small spot fire on the north side of the fire overnight, but quickly contained it. Now firefighters are continuing their efforts to mop up and monitor for more spot fires.

A former Klamath Falls police officer pleaded guilty today in federal court after stealing methamphetamine and fentanyl from an evidence room.

Thomas Dwayne Reif, 28, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge.

According to court documents, on or about November 27, 2020, Reif is alleged to have entered the Klamath Falls Police Department’s temporary evidence room using an unauthorized key and removed an evidence item containing methamphetamine and fentanyl. Reif briefly left the evidence room before returning the evidence item to the evidence locker and leaving the facility.

Shortly thereafter, Reif overdosed while operating his police car. The car jumped a median, travelled into oncoming traffic, and caused a multiple-vehicle accident. Reif was rushed to the hospital and successfully revived by medical personnel. Toxicology reports showed that Reif was under the influence of substances including methamphetamine and fentanyl.

Investigators searched the personal locker assigned to Reif at the Klamath Falls Police Department. Inside the locker, investigators found that Reif had concealed an evidence bag containing methamphetamine.

On May 20, 2021, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a two-count indictment charging Reif with possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge.

Reif faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release. He will be sentenced on November 23, 2021 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from Oregon State Police. It is being prosecuted by John C. Brassell, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Klamath Falls Police Department cooperated and provided assistance throughout the investigation.

Around the state of Oregon

In Medford, Providence hospitals in Oregon will significantly limit visitors due to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spurred by the Delta variant, administrators announced over the weekend

The new visitor policy took effect on Monday, August 23. There is a short list of exceptions to the rule, mostly applying to emergency cases, pediatrics, and birthing.

Emergency Department patients are allowed one visitor while in the department only; the Pediatric Emergency Department will allow two visitors; two visitors through about two hours postpartum for Labor and Delivery; one visitor in the Mother/Baby unit; two visitors for Pediatric inpatients; and a broader exception for people with disabilities. In all cases, visitors must be at least 16 years old, must wear a mask fully covering their nose and mouth, and must remain in the patient’s room unless entering or exiting the medical center.

Asante announced a near-identical list of restrictions on their visitor policy last week, likewise beginning Monday. Asante’s policy also allows two visitors for patients receiving end-of-life care.

 Five Josephine County individuals have died from complications relating to COVID-19 infections.

An 80-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 Aug. 10 and died Aug. 21 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. He had underlying conditions. He had been vaccinated for COVID-19.

A 77-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 Aug. 8 and died Aug. 21 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. He had underlying conditions. He had been vaccinated for COVID-19.

A 77-year-old woman tested positive for COVID-19 Aug. 12 and died Aug. 22 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. She had underlying conditions. She had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

An 83-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 Aug. 12 and died Aug. 21 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. He had underlying conditions. He had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

An 81-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 Aug. 17 and died Aug. 17 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Oregon. He had underlying conditions. He had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Josephine County now has a total of 111 COVID-19-related deaths. Of those patients, 110 died from complications relating to COVID-19 infections. Of the 111 COVID-19 patients who died, 102 were unvaccinated.

Two new laws aimed at expanding voter access in Oregon are under fire from a conservative group that argues the changes will make state elections less secure.

People affiliated with the group Oregonians for Fair Elections have filed referendum petitions that, if successful, would ask voters to approve or reject the new laws next year. To do that, they’d need to collect 74,680 valid signatures in opposition to each bill by Sept. 24, a tight timeline that could be hard to meet as the state struggles with a resurgence of COVID-19.

The first, House Bill 2681, ensured that voters cannot be labeled “inactive” — and so ineligible to automatically receive a ballot — for the sole reason of not voting. It’s an extension of other steps Oregon has taken in recent years.

In 2017, then-Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, a Republican, announced the state would no longer label voters “inactive” if they had not voted for five consecutive years. Richardson increased that window to 10 years, and subsequently announced he wanted to end the practice of labeling voters inactive because they had not voted. Voters can still be labeled “inactive” for other reasons, including not responding when their ballot has been challenged.

John Burright

The public is invited to view a procession and memorial service for Oregon State Police (OSP) Sgt. John Burright on Wednesday.

He died in May after a 20-year battle with severe injuries after being hit by a car.

On Sept. 4, 2001, a vehicle hit Sgt. Burright while he was helping a family in a disabled vehicle on the shoulder of Interstate 5.

Trooper Maria Mignano and Albany Police Department Officer Jason Hoerauf died.

The accident left Sgt. Burright with debilitating and career-ending injuries, and he died on May 4, 2021.

The procession on Aug. 25 will start at 10:20 a.m. at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Albany. It will pass the Oregon State Police Albany Patrol Office, where Sgt. Burright spent most of his career. The procession will continue north on Interstate 5 to the Salem Armory for the memorial service. Drivers should be prepared for road closures and long delays along the procession route, which includes I-5 between Albany and Salem. OSP encourages anyone planning to drive along the procession route between 10 a.m.-12 p.m. to find an alternative route.

Firefighter Dies While Working On Gales Fire

A firefighter died in an accident Monday while working on the Gales Fire in the Middle Fork Complex, according to the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.

Bryan Cutchen, Oakridge city administrator and acting fire chief, said the death is suspected to have been caused by a tree falling on the firefighter. Cutchen said the victim was a young man.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release and Facebook post Monday night that deputies along with partners from numerous other agencies were on scene investigating. Authorities were also working to notify the man’s family, according to the agency. No other injuries were reported.

The man was working on the eastern edge of the Gales Fire at the time of the incident, according to Larry Nickey, deputy incident commander liaison for Pacific Northwest Team 13.

“We don’t have any information we can release right now because of the investigation,” Nickey said on Monday afternoon.

The Gales Fire is within the Middle Fork Complex of fires that started in the Willamette National Forest the week of July 26. More than 500 personnel are working at the complex. The fires are about 9 miles north of Oakridge. They have burned about 24 square miles and have prompted evacuations.

Wildfires have burned over 603,132 acres across Oregon and Washington.

Nine of the active blazes are in Oregon, while 17 are in Washington. A majority of the fires were sparked by lightning, while a few remain under investigation.

The Ford Corkscrew fire in central Washington has prompted mandatory evacuations northwest of Spokane and damaged 20 buildings. The fire has burnt 15,000 acres since Aug. It was 14% contained as of Friday.

The wildfires still burning in Oregon are nowhere as large as the Bootleg fire, which reached 100% containment after burning for more than a month. It was the third-largest fire in Oregon since 1900, scorching over 400,000 acres and destroying more than 160 homes.

Another day of below seasonal temperatures with improved humidifies on the west side and dry conditions on the east side. There were breezy winds in the Cascade gaps, but most other areas were relatively calm. The northern two thirds of Washington had mostly cloudy skies and light scattered precipitation fell in northwest Washington.

Wildfire smoke blanketed southern Oregon. An inversion this morning resulted in poor humidity recoveries in the mid elevations in the Oregon Cascades and in eastern Oregon. The moderated conditions limited growth on existing large fires.

Temperatures will warm some today, bringing the region to near seasonal normal conditions. As a series of upper-level troughs continue to pass through, near normal temperatures and relative humidities will persist through the week. General winds will be a little breezy in central Oregon this afternoon. A stronger marine push tomorrow will boost breezes through Cascade gaps in the afternoon and bring some light rain mainly over the Cascades and Olympics.

Precipitation chances will retreat to the northern Cascades Thursday, then shift to northeastern Washington Friday. Gap breezes will pick up a bit more Thursday and Friday afternoons, then calm for the weekend. Models still show some differences in details, but it appears an upper level ridge will move across the region over the weekend for a brief warming spell.

Diminished fire danger coupled with seasonable temperature and humidity will keep the potential for new significant fires at or below seasonal normal through the week.

Here are links to be able to see updated info on the larger fires in Oregon:

This public lands link is super helpful to check before you head outdoors. The Keep Oregon Green website carries ODF’s public use restrictions. Click the link for up-to-date information:


A dwindling species of bumblebee unique to southern Oregon and parts of northern California will now be recognized for federal protections under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency revealed on Monday. The Franklin’s bumblebee is believed to reside across Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine counties in Oregon, as well as Siskiyou and Trinity counties in California. This relatively small range makes it one of the most narrowly distributed bumblebee species in the world. Wildlife officials believe that that the species may still exist in the region, though the last confirmed sighting occurred back in 2006. The U.S. Forest Service cited the Fender’s blue butterfly as an example of a species that was believed extinct for decades, but was spotted again in Oregon during 1989. The species has since started to recover. The Franklin’s bumblebee is believed to nest underground in abandoned rodent burrows and other spaces that allow room for shelter and food storage. One colony was discovered in a residential garage in Medford. The USFWS said that the bees have historically been found at elevations between 540 and 7,800 feet, often finding food among the colder climates of alpine flowering plants.

Fatal Crash ‘possibly caused by a wrong-way driver’ closes I-5 near Ashland This Morning

I-5 southbound is closed at Exit 19 Ashland due to a head-on crash “possibly caused by a wrong-way driver,” the Oregon Department of Transportation said Tuesday morning.

<p>Interstate 5 southbound is closed at Exit 19 Ashland due to a head-on crash "possibly caused by a wrong-way driver," the Oregon Department of Transportation said Tueday morning. ODOT said to "expect possible lengthy closure" as Oregon State Police investigate. (TripCheck){/p}

Oregon State Police confirmed the crash resulted in at least one death. ODOT said to “expect possible lengthy closure” as Oregon State Police investigate.

“Ashland residents should expect heavier than normal traffic on OR 99 through town until the closure is lifted,” the transportation department cautioned.

Increased Emergency SNAP Benefits Continue in September

Need to know

SNAP Office - Snap Servives Eugene

Most Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive emergency allotments in September. 

The federal government has approved emergency allotments every month since March 2020. This gives SNAP recipients additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In September, approximately 402,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $65 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide emergency benefits to most SNAP households in Oregon,” said Dan Haun, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Self-Sufficiency Program. “We also know that many Oregonians are still struggling to meet their basic needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we encourage them to contact our partners at 211 and the Oregon Food Bank for support during this difficult time.”

Emergency allotments will be available on Sept. 11 for current SNAP households. New SNAP households will receive the emergency allotments Sept. 30 or Oct. 2.

SNAP recipients do not have to take any action to receive these supplemental benefits as they will be issued directly on their EBT cards. 

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/About-SNAP.aspx.

Questions about your SNAP benefits should be directed to the ONE Customer Service Center at 1-800-699-9075.

If you are a SNAP household and your income or the number of people in your household has changed, it could impact your benefits. It is important to make sure ODHS has the most up-to-date information.

You can report any changes to your income or household in many ways: 

  • Online at: ONE.Oregon.gov
  • By mail at: ONE Customer Service Center, PO Box 14015, Salem, OR 97309
  • By fax at: 503-378-5628
  • By phone at: 1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711

Resources to help meet basic needs

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits. For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.Oregon Department of Human Services 

OSU Study Finds Tree Rings in Oregon Show Evidence Of A Historic 1700 Quake And Tsunami

The earthquake that struck the west coast of North America on January 26, 1700, is said to be the greatest ever recorded in the “lower 48” states of the United States. A team of experts discovered evidence of this “megathrust” in old trees in Oregon during their research.

The earthquake that struck the Cascadia Subduction Zone in January 1700 was a major one. With a magnitude of 9.0, it not only wreaked havoc and generated landslides in various regions, but it also triggered a tsunami that crossed the Pacific and wreaked havoc on Japan’s Pacific coast.

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According to a news release from Oregon State University (OSU), evidence of this historic event has been found in the trees in Washington, so a team of researchers set out to see whether they could find similar evidence in the trees in Oregon.

The researchers gathered core samples of 38 Douglas fir stands that predate the 1700 earthquake in Mike Miller Park in South Beach for the study, which was just published in the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.

According to OSU, one of the study’s authors, Robert Dziak of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, said that the majority of the trees date back to 1670, with one dating back to 1650.

The area would have been overwhelmed by up to 10 meters of water during the tsunami, according to “new and revised” simulations. When researchers compared the growth rates of the samples to those of Douglas firs not in the tsunami inundation zone, they discovered that the trees in the tsunami inundation zone had “significantly reduced” growth rates in 1700.

The researchers also compared the South Beach Douglas-fir tree-ring data to two other Douglas-fir datasets from the Oregon Coast Range and western Cascade Mountains, which would have experienced similar climate conditions but not tsunami inundation, in order to better detect tree growth anomalies near 1700 CE. “When compared to these control sites, tree growth in South Beach is much lower in 1700 CE, reaffirming that Douglas-fir growth in South Beach is abnormally low for the region.”

In an OSU news release, Dziak stated, “The tsunami looks to be the event that most affected the trees’ growth that year.”

The researchers speculated that the shaking of the ground, as well as the presence of seawater, may have contributed to the decline in growth. Brief News from Washington Newsday.

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